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Pope apologizes for losing patience
“We lose patience many times,” Francis confessed.
STAR/ File

Pope apologizes for losing patience

Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 3, 2020 - 12:00am

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis apologized Wednesday for slapping a woman who had grabbed him as he greeted a crowd of devotees, shortly before he delivered a speech denouncing “every form of violence against women.”

The image of a visibly annoyed Francis slapping his way free from the clutches of an admirer as he walked by Catholic faithful on New Year’s Eve  instantly went viral on social media.

A personal apology followed.

“We lose patience many times,” Francis confessed.

“It happens to me too. I apologize for the bad example given yesterday,” the head of the Catholic Church said before celebrating mass at the Vatican.

Twitter enthusiasts commented on the pontiff’s prompt riposte to the exuberant woman.

Francis had greeted children before the Nativity scene on Saint Peter’s Square and was turning away when a woman, who had crossed herself then cried out something, yanked his hand and almost caused him to fall.

The 83-year-old pope grimaced and scowled before managing to break free, slapping her hand twice as a security guard intervened.

The pontiff continued his tour, walking with some difficulty while maintaining a slightly greater distance from visitors, and gradually relaxed again as he met with other children.

Twitter comments revealed some support for his instinctive reaction.

“I’m not a Catholic, but the woman is wrong. It even seemed as if the pope experienced pain at one moment,” one comment read.

“He is human... (Being) a pope doesn’t make you immune to pain or avoid reaction to pain,” another comment read.

Others were less favorable, however.

“Yikes. She was totally wrong but his reaction was not very pope-like,” another commented.

In his first mass of the New Year, the pontiff later declared that “every form of violence against women is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a

woman.”

He noted that the service traditionally celebrates the life of Mary, “the woman who wove the humanity of God.”

The blessing of God for all, he said, was “not magic but requires patience, patience and love.”

The pontiff then repeated “patience and love” in a comment that was not contained in a text distributed to media ahead of time and which seemed to be

his reaction to what had occurred the night before.

The pope is known to enjoy greeting the public, and also has a reputation for speaking his mind and having a determined temperament.

Francis emphasized Wednesday that women were the “sources of life” and deplored that they were “continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to

prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb.”

He underscored that in the Christian faith, “from a woman was born the Prince of Peace,” and bemoaned that women’s bodies were “sacrificed on the profane altars of advertising, of profiteering, of pornography.” 

‘Be humble’

With the pope’s apology,Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged the Filipino people to be more like the pontiff who is humble and honest enough to acknowledge hismistakes.
“We can see honesty of the pope. He is as human as anyone of us. He also loses his composure, but he is humble and honest enough to accept his mistake and he apologizes.

We should do the same when we make mistakes,” Pabillo said. Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), echoed Pabillo’s sentiment, sayingm that Francis had immediately realized his mistake. Secillano urged the Catholic faithful to pray for Pope Francis and for the Catholic Church.

‘Wrong’ papal behavior 

 While some faithful have defended Pope Francis for slapping the overzealous woman’s hand, the pontiff’s misdemeanor did not sit well with a Filipino Catholic priest.  

Father Ranhilio Aquino said on Facebook that he was disappointed by how the pope reacted to the well-wisher who only wanted to hold his hand. ?But Aquino emphasized that he will remain compliant to the teaching of Pope Francis despite his “very wrong” behavior. 

“I love Pope Francis, and I shall remain docile to his teaching … but what he did was very wrong, wringing a woman’s hand and slapping her on the wrist… and all she wanted was to hold the pope’s hand,” Aquino said. 

“I thought a shepherd was supposed to ‘smell like the sheep.’ So why is the pope afraid to be touched, hugged, pulled, tugged by his people? Is that not the way children deal with their father? I was disappointed with Pope Francis over this incident, televised globally,” he added. ?A short video of a visibly disgruntled Pope Francis is making the rounds online after he was spotted slapping a woman’s hand that wished to touch the pontiff while shaking hands with some children in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on New Year’s Eve. 

The video also showed that the papal security guards failed to control the situation. ?Aquino said that Francis should dismantle his security guards “for the sake of his credibility” as he was elected to the top church post to gamble his life for the Catholic faithful. 

“Only politicians fear their constituents. Of course this puts his life at risk, but he was elected pope not to protect his life from risk, but to risk his life for his people,” he said. ?“It is the same disgust I felt when he visited Manila, and the whole coterie of guards and agents managed to keep people away from the pope. What then is the purpose of an apostolic visit?” he said. 

He also emphasized that putting the pontiff’s life at risk “is part of the job description of being pope.” 

Just a day after the slapping incident made the rounds online, Francis issued an apology. ?But for Aquino, he said that a genuine apology means “true change in the way he does things” as he reiterated the pope must get rid of all his detailed security officers “to fulfill his mandate to truly walk as a father among his children.” ?With the pope’s apology, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged the Filipino people to be more like the pontiff who is humble and honest enough to acknowledge his mistakes.  

“We can see honesty of the pope. He is as human as anyone of us. He also loses his composure, but he is humble and honest enough to accept his mistake and he apologizes. We should do the same when we make mistakes,” Pabillo said. 

Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), echoed Pabillo’s sentiment, saying that Francis had immediately realized his mistake.  

Secillano urged the Catholic faithful to pray for Pope Francis and for the Catholic Church. 

POPE FRANCIS
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